To get to the 2014 World Cup, Canada faces at least 14 more matches.
But the next two could shed a lot of light on how much of that journey the Canadian men's soccer team will get to take.
Canada plays Panama in a vital home-and-away series that opens today at Toronto's BMO Field before moving to Panama City Tuesday.
"The next two games for us are huge," said 32-yearold captain Kevin McKenna. "I think we're all looking forward to it. Obviously everyone's a bit on edge."
Picking up points at home is crucial in qualifying. Poor performances on Canadian soil have cost the national team in recent qualifying campaigns.
"Every home game is a must win," said midfielder Patrice Bernier.
Panama leads the group with six points from two matches. Canada is second with four points from its two matches. Honduras has one point and Cuba none.
"They have been very consistent over the last four years," coach Stephen Hart said of Panama.
The top two teams will advance to the six-country final round of qualifying in CONCACAF.
Panama is led by FC Dallas striker Blaz Perez; another threat is Luis Tejada, a striker known as El Matador whose stoppage time goal eliminated Canada from last year's Gold Cup.
The good news for Hart is that his team is healthy, with the exception of midfielder Josh Simpson.
There is plenty of experience on the Canadian roster, with veterans such as defender Ante Jazic 36.